Preserving Your Email Marketing’s Good Reputation

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halo_smallADOTAS – Email marketing and deliverability have changed dramatically as the result of ISPs, ESPs and legislation. These changes have resulted in plummeting deliverability rates for many email marketers who fail to understand the new landscape and the number one determining factor of email legitimacy: sender reputation.

A good reputation can take months or even years to build, but only seconds to destroy. Following, we offer four ways to preserve your sender reputation and avoid the spam folder or, worse yet, an ISP blacklist.

Use a Dedicated IP Address

It is a common myth among email marketers that a company’s reputation is based on its name. In truth, as far as your sender reputation is concerned, credibility is based on your IP address. Think of an IP address as a unique identifier such as a home address, Social Security number or passport — if stolen or used illegally, there can be serious ramifications for your personal credit or reputation.

You don’t share your Social Security number with just anyone — the same rule should apply to your IP address. If you share an IP address with one — let alone hundreds — of companies, you are putting your credibility score at risk.

Many ESPs will provide a dedicated IP address for a fee, which gives you complete control of the messages you send, safeguarding your sender reputation. A dedicated IP address is essential to high deliverability rates.

Build a Current, Up-to-Date Mailing List

If you are using a list of email addresses that have not been contacted in at least 12 months, the recipients have more than likely forgot who your company is and why they are receiving emails from you — even if they subscribed themselves. As a result, emails sent to inactive addresses are highly likely to end up in the spam folder, which drastically effects your sender reputation and deliverability rates.

Purchased lists can be even more of a gamble depending on the quality of the broker. Many include “spam-trap addresses” that are placed on the Web, just waiting to be picked up. The CAN-SPAM act makes it illegal to apply these addresses to lists for purchase. If you use them your IP address may be blacklisted, making it extremely difficult for your messages to be received.

The best practice for list-building is to do it yourself through a transparent opt-in process. Should you decide to purchase a list, be sure to remove obvious illegitimate emails such as thumbs@down.com and watch@out.com before you send.

Authenticate Your IP Addresses

In order to curb spam, IP addresses require authentication to determine the sender of an email. In order to determine whether Business X truly sent an email, ISPs use a variety of authentication protocols such as SPF, Sender ID and Domain Keys. To assist the process, an IT person or webmaster is needed to update domain name system (DNS) records.

Updating these records with the addresses that are permitted to send emails from your company is vital in order to keeping your sender reputation intact, as ISPs will block emails that do not come from an approved IP address. Without the authentication process ISPs may interpret your message as spam, negatively impacting your credibility.

Welcome New Subscribers

Not only is sending a welcome email to new subscribers a best practice, it can be the key to ensuring your next email message lands in the inbox instead of in the spam folder. A welcome email reminds subscribers who you are, clues them in to the design of your email templates so they’ll recognize them in the future and it alerts them of when to expect your emails.

To ensure continued deliverability, encourage new subscribers to add your company email address to their address books of safe sender lists. This will guide your messages directly to the inbox, rather than the spam folder. Knowing who you are makes all the difference between reading your email and reporting it as spam.

Follow these simple rules to avoid irreparable damage to your email reputation. Using dedicated and consistent email lists, a unique and devoted IP address, authenticating your email address and welcoming new subscribers, can put you on the path to a better reputation, and protect your company’s good name.

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